Post by Anne-Marie
“When one makes love, there is a certain scent we that give off. I think it’s very sensual – that’s the scent of Obsession.”
– Calvin Klein
Obsession was released in 1985 and by any measure is a mighty fragrance. It is so much more than the sum of its notes….
Obsession by Jean Guichard for Calvin Klein 1985
“Oh, the smell of it!”
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Green notes, mandarin, peach, basil, bergamot, lemon
Heart: Spices, coriander, sandalwood, orange blossom, jasmine, oakmoss, cedar, rose
Base: Amber, musk, civet, vanilla, vetiver, incense.
It’s the damp herbal first blast of Obsession that I adore. Yes, there are softer, easier things to come, but that dark, slightly bitter opening is for me, addictive. After that I get spices of course, although not the florals.
The base for me is mostly amber and vanilla, with incense keeping things cool and dry. The vanilla is far from being sweet and foodie – which is just how I like it. I wear the modern EDT, the stuff you can get for a song just about anywhere perfume is sold.
Obsession is usually classified as an oriental, but through its marketing, Obsession rejects conventional oriental fantasies and metaphors. We get no lacquered spice jars, no souks, no Buddhas or Indian princesses etc. Obsession does not weave sentimental fairy tales; it is about nothing but sex.
The early TV ads were directed by Richard Avedon and make you feel as if you have wandered on to the set of some weird modernist play. Everything is in monochrome, but clearly the scene is vibrant with sexual obsession. In one, an older man laments a young woman (played by South African model José Borain) who has left him (“Was it me? Did I somehow driver her away?”).
In another, that woman is the object of obsession for a beautiful teenage boy (“ … the whispers at my bedside … her arms … her mouth … her amber hair … and oh, the smell of it.”).
The early print ads were shot in Puerto Villata, Mexico, by Bruce Weber and feature, in blue sepia, two (or three) naked, entwined bodies.
Famously, Kate Moss also modelled for Obsession, but that came later, in 1993 when she was 17. Shot by Mario Sorrenti and still in monochrome, the location was a shack on the beach: “Just me and him and loads of film,” Moss later recalled. The ads speak to the photographer’s obsession with his model. Moss was his girlfriend at the time but the relationship did not survive.
All of these ads are edgy. “You walk a fine line, especially in advertising,” Calvin Klein admitted, “if you try and do something sensual.” Sometimes I find them more disturbing than, say, Tom Ford’s quite sexually explicit ads for his perfumes.
A lot of people have memories of Obsession, good and bad. What are yours?
‘Til next time, have fun!